logo version 4.0

(05/17/2003; 09:55pm) - on tour

Afternoon sometime.

I got a call from an old friend. She told me she was going to be in town that evening, and needed a place to stay.
Of course, I said yes.
We got to catching up a bit.
Her boyfriend, and his twin brother are "on tour" with The Stringcheese Incident. They also needed a place to stay. I know them from college. They're good people.
Of course, I said yes.
They had another friend with them. They met him "on tour". We had enough beds.
Of course, I said yes.
I'm to expect them at around 1. 1 am.

I've made plans with Mike Littner, a friend, for earlier in the evening. He has a new girlfriend. As an old male-friend, I need to be consulted and an opinion made.
(She's wonderfully energetic. Optimistic. Perfect for him.)
I get home, with Rachelle, at about 1:30. Bobert, my roommate beyond description, was good enough to let our guests in before passing out. At about 1. 1 am.
Our guests have been in the house for about a half hour when Rachelle and I arrive.

Hugs flow freely.
As do warm, nostalgic greetings. Where do you sleep. How do you spend your days.
I meet Romey.
Romey, I find out later has been "on tour" for seven years. When I find out what "on tour" is all about, I'm shocked.
Romey is energetic, but not frantically so. I know these kids, I assume they've taken acid.
They're drinking beers. My sink runneth over.

Greetings fade. Conversation comes in brilliant technocolor.
Now that I think about it, I didn't tell them much about myself. My life.
I guess it was apparent.
I live in my apartment. I work in my apartment.
My apartment is neat.
My life must be.
There are millions of lives like mine. Only thousands like their.

Through conversation, I start to learn about their one-of-a-thousand lives.
Through the vernacular, I start to learn what's important.

"On Tour".
Not playing music. Or as techies. Oh no. Nothing that official. The Stringcheese Incident (an unfortunate name, if you ask me) is wrapping up a national tour. Three of my guests have been to most, if not all, of the shows. My old friend, Francesca, just met up with them a few days before. Hank and Ben (Francesca's boyfriend and his twin) have been on tour since about May when they graduated college. They supported themselves in college with a booming business. They've managed to keep working on tour.
Being on tour means being without a solid, or consistent roof over your head for months at a time.
The tour is your home.

"Sweet Pea"
Ben and Hank's pea green VW Westphalia bus.
A throwback to an older time. My mom drove a VW bus in the sixties. It was painted with flowers and the like.
It was named "Gladys" after her mother.
"Sweet Pea has basically been our home for the past while."
As they have a bus, they can take riders from one tour stop to the next. Romey is their rider.

"Molly" & "Sas"
Molly: MDMA. Famous for being the main ingredient in press-pill ecstasy. Molly is a powder, or capsule.
Sas: MDA. Like MDMA. I've never done it, so can't comment on the differences.
These are the two hottest "jobs" on tour these days. Romey, I find out later, is on four doses of Molly.

"A job"
A drug to buy and sell in The Lot.

"The Lot"
The parking lot before during and after a Stringcheese show.

"The Family"
I'm unclear on this one. It may be a term for the collective of people who are currently on tour. Also, might be a smaller group within the tour who are the major sources of illicit intoxicants.

As we talk that first night, I'm entranced by this life. All the creature comforts I've cushioned myself with since graduating college are not a possible component to their existence. Air conditioner. Television. Music equipment. DVDs. Internet. A kitchen. Consistency. Stability.
I developed a crush on the abandon. The freedom. No responsibility. No commitment.
Their stories told of the presence and the tightness of the touring community. So much warmer that New York.

That night, I fell asleep drunk with images of millennial flower children dancing in my head.


I woke up later than I would have liked.

Romey and Ben were cooking a breakfast of potatoes and eggs. The potatoes smelled delicious. Curried.
Romey offered me a beer.
I declined.
I offered Romey a coffee.
He accepted.
Rachelle and I drank our coffees with Romey and Ben.
We went to my mom's house to help her paint her bedroom.
They drank beers and ate potatoes.

I spent all afternoon painting with mom.
I told her about the hippies staying in my living room.
She told me about the hippies staying in her memories.

After painting, I met up with Bobert, Francesca and Benny for dinner.
We have delicious Thai food.
We hear terrible stories about Romey.
He was drunk all day.
He harassed women in the street.
He went into a church and blew out the candles.

He went into a church and blew out the candles.

We go to Benny's house and unwind after dinner.
Then meet up with Rachelle when her shift is over.
She's a waitress at a bar on the upper east side.

At the bar we get a call from Ben and Hank saying they're on their way back to my apartment in Queens.
Francesca is hoping for Romey not to be with them.

We beat them home by about twenty minutes or so.

Ben and Hank make it to the apartment first. They're flushed and a little manic. Romey passed out on Sixth Avenue after the show. They've had adventures on the train.
Romey isn't far behind them. He's being helped along by Eric. Another kid on tour.

I'm happy to help Ben and Hank. They're friends.
When Eric and Romey show up, I feel imposed upon.

Romey is spent.
There's no more fight to him.
Within a couple of hours of showing up he falls asleep on a chair.
Then falls out of the chair.
Then slides off a mattress.
He sleeps restlessly.
Too much acid does that to a body.

Eric is fine. Pleasant. Jovial.
I simply wasn't prepared to have another houseguest.
When it was asked if he could stay the night, I couldn't turn him to the street. He was talking about sleeping on the train.
I guess when you're generous, sometimes you get imposed on.
Of course, I said yes.

When I woke up on Sunday, the hippies were gone. The dishes were done. The only remnants of their stay were a lot of empty beers, and a misplaced shirt.
But it didn't matter.
My order was already disrupted.
My flow jolted.
I was cranky.

So I spent a good deal of Sunday cleaning the house.
Then thinking about the hippies.

There was so much alluring about being "on tour" on Friday night. So much disgusting about it on Saturday.

On Friday, I was ready to cut the cords loosen up on my life. I was so decidedly square. Nice, yes.
Generous, yes.
Definitely on their side. But square.
I used to go to raves all the time.
I haven't been in a few years.
After a brief stint in a counter-culture, am I conforming?
Am I run of the mill?
Has the rebellious fight left me?
Been bought with comfort and convenience?
I was more like Ben and Hank in college.
Have a let some part of myself die?

But Saturday.
The tales of arrest were made more real.
The homelessness of these dancing wanderers is no longer freeing but troubling and confining.
You must rely on someone else for a kitchen, for a shower, for clean clothes, for a place to sleep.
(Romey, of course, learned how to keep his socks and underwear clean in jail.)
What's the glue to the community of heads on tour? Probably the travel and the music. The bonds formed between people as they crisscross together on the indefinite road trip. All of these are true and real.
But also, the tour has become a haven for the lost. A current for the misguided and alone to be swept up in. The escapism of the music, of the drugs, of the family is very appealing.
Ben and Hank are enjoying themselves. The believe in all of the ideals of the lifestyle. The travel. The camaraderie. The music. They are full of joy.
Romey and Eric are the lost. It seeps right out of them. And it's sad.

I hope to run into Ben and Hank again before long. After this tour is over, I hear Ben wants to move to New York. I think Hank is going to follow Francesca to England.

Francesca and I will be friends. For a long time.